From the offset, you never feel quite onside with Ringham as she starts to share her story of her break up with her ex-boyfriend. She makes us titter with laughter but never gets us really going in the way that would secure our trust, out interest, in a way that is essential for this type of work.
Whilst I have seen some extraordinary shows in Birmingham Rep’s The Door – Dark and Lovely, Iphigenia in Splott – I Want Love (Part One) feels somewhat lost. It doesn’t feel sure of who it is for. Is this Ringham’s exorcism of her emotions? Is she warning us about our own potential choices? And whilst the promotional material bills the performance as a ‘comedy’, it really isn’t that funny.
Nevertheless, she does offer us an insight into the complexities of single life. She could smoke in the theatre, but it is also bad for our health and probably against the rules so she doesn’t. She thinks she is free but proves to us that really, she isn’t. There is something slightly tragic about this, but it feels a bit lost in the rest of the work.
She tells a delightful anecdote about an experience in Pret A Manger with some incredibly nuanced physicality. There is a detached style of retelling in the performance which makes us think more critically about what she says, and which means that any empathy is hard to latch onto.
I Want Love is part of a trilogy but having been so unconvinced by the first part, I don’t know whether I want to see the next two parts. It felt slightly scared of the intimacy that it craves to make this a successful delicate work.